Vol 5 No. 38 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 5, 1970
|Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page||Unit Page|
|1/5 1||1/5 8||2/27 1||65th Engr 3|
|1/5 3||2/22 8||3/22 1||725th Maint 6|
Tired of Being Communist
Rallier Leads Wolfhounds to Hospital Complex
By PFC DAN LOWRY
CU CHI - Members of the 25th Division's 2nd Wolfhounds led by an
enthusiastic young rallier, uncovered a Viet Cong field hospital complex and detained two
enemy nurses near here recently.
The find by Alfa Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry was made in a thickly foliaged area 12 miles north of here.
"We were in our night holding position when we spotted this Vietnamese kid standing all alone," said Staff Sergeant Steven Vance of Indianapolis. "Our Kit Carson Scout went out to talk to him and, after a while, they came back together."
The boy volunteered that he was 14 years old and had been pressed into service by the VC when he was eight.
He had been sent out from a nearby underground field hospital to buy rice, but had lost the money. Fearful of being punished if he returned emptyhanded, and tired of being a Communist stooge, he decided to rally to the first US unit he could find.
"We gave him a fatigue jacket and a bush hat in place of his raggedy clothes," Vance added. "He was real hungry too, so we stuffed him with C-rations."
In return, the rallier offered to lead the company to the hospital where he said there were medical supplies and VC.
A short time later, two platoons of Alfa Company, with the youngster walking point, left their night position and headed for the suspected enemy field hospital.
Points Out VC
While enroute, the boy pointed out two VC women suppliers out of a group of civilians walking along a nearby road.
"The boy wasn't in the least bit hesitant about pointing at the two women and shouting, 'VC suppliers," said Sergeant Mike Jenkins of Atlanta.
"We asked the two for their identification cards, but they didn't have any. So we detained both and took them along with us.
"When we reached the suspected area, one platoon was left behind for security while the other moved in," Jenkins continued. "We maneuvered through thick brush and soon reached the medical complex -two underground bunkers."
The Hounds removed over 40 pounds of medicines and drugs back to their security element, then moved forward again and found three more bunkers.
"We were in a file formation with the kid leading us to the bunkers," Jenkins added. "Suddenly a VC jumped out of one and stared right at the kid."
Unfortunately the boy was in the GIs' firing line, so no attempt was made to kill the fleeing enemy.
"The poor kid was so scared by that guy that he crawled right between my legs trying to get away from him," Jenkins said.
After evacuating the enemy supplies from the last three bunkers, the Hounds called in an immediate air strike. Among the goods taken were 125 pounds of polished rice, 25 pounds of salt, 10 pounds of sugar, two AK-47s, a dental kit, four large bottles of plasma and numerous amounts of cooking utensils and food and water containers.
Use Trail Once Too Often
Regulars Trap NVA Patrol
By SP4 KRIS PETERSEN
PSB LYNCH - The odds ran out for two NVA recently, as they used a favorite
trail once too often. This time, members of the 3rd Battalion, 22nd Infantry happened to
be there too.
Alfa Company, serving as a blocking force on a mission near a French-owned rubber plantation, was inserted into an area of heavy foliage and thick vegetation. This area had been used as an enemy infiltration route.
"After setting up in a day location, six of us went out on a separate daylight ambush alongside a well-defined trail," said Sergeant Richard Hawkins of West Allis, Wis., the platoon leader.
"The trail seemed like a highway, there were so many signs of movement," said Specialist 4 David Hasseltine of Mt. Vernon, Va.
"Fresh tracks were clearly visible all up and down the trail," said another Regular, Private First Class William Rockwell of Buffalo, N.Y.
A small element of NVA were apparently on a patrol of their own, using the trail as the easiest method of travel.
"We saw the same group walking up and down the trail about 50 yards away and intuition told me they'd be coming back again," said Private First Class Michael Karaberis of Manchester, N.H. "And they did."
One Regular spotted them and warned the others to get ready.
Immediately M-16s and M-79s opened up, scattering the enemy into the woods and leaving two dead on the trail.
"We searched for the enemy after the contact," said Sergeant Bruce Graham of Aurora, Ill.
Captured after the brief battle were two AK-47s, some assorted ammunition and personal gear.
"We'd always been told that using a trail like a public sidewalk could be hazardous to your health," said Sergeant Bobby Pickens of Waynesboro. Miss. "Those two NVA found that out the hard way."
Soldier Is Convicted In
By SP5 TOM BOZZUTO
CU CHI - (September 14) - A general court here found a Tropic Lightning
soldier guilty of killing two men and wounding 10 others during a May shooting at Tay
Ninh's standdown area and sentenced him to 22 years confinement at hard labor.
Specialist 4 James E. Paul, 22 of Alamagordo, N.M., was convicted on two counts of voluntary manslaughter and ten counts of assault with intent to commit voluntary manslaughter. The decision is now subject to an automatic appeal before the court of military review in Washington.
Fighting Breaks Out
Evidence brought before the court showed that during the evening of May 16th, as Charlie Company, 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry, waited for a show to begin, fighting broke out between men of the company and men from other units who refused to leave the standdown area when asked.
When the intruders were evicted, someone said, "Let's come back later and get them (the men of Charlie Company)." Paul's roommate, Private First Class Edward F. Lane, quoted Paul as saying, "I'm not going to wait! "
Sergeant Allan L. Lewis formerly with the 4th Battalion 9th Infantry, testified that he saw Paul walking with an M-16 toward the standdown area. He said he then saw Paul go into an "infantry crouch" and fire into the bleachers.
According to Lane, when the accused returned to his room he said, "I just shot some 'rabbits'."
At this point, Paul reportedly put his M-16 under his bunk, borrowed a headband from Lane and asked, "Where can I go?"
The two roommates then went to the "Free World Club" in Tay Ninh. On the way over Lane asked Paul if he had aimed when he shot. Paul answered, "Yes! I was aiming at a sergeant who had a gun, but I didn't get him."
Weapon Not Dirty
Later, Lane testified, Paul asked him to go back to their hootch and clean the weapon. Lane claimed that when he did, he found that the weapon was not dirty and did not look as though it had been used.
However, a USARV ballistics expert testified that Paul's weapon very definitely was the one that had been used in the shooting.
The defense countered that the descriptions given by eye-witnesses were so confusing as to leave room for reasonable doubt about Paul's guilt.
One witness claimed that he saw a man other than Paul leaving the scene of the shooting carrying an M-16. And a MP testified that in another room of the hootch shared by Paul and the other man he found a weapon that "was warm to the touch."
Defense lawyers also argued that Lane's testimony was inconsistent. On cross-examination, Lane said he was not sure of what Paul had said immediately after the shooting. All he was sure of was that Paul had used the word "killed."
The court deliberated for a little more than an hour before returning a verdict of guilty. The prosecution's demand for conviction on the charge of premeditated murder - which carries a mandatory life sentence - was overruled in favor of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
STUDY IN BARBED WIRE Choppers wait for a change of weather to pick up men of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry. (Photo by SGT Mark Rockney)
Page 2 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 5, 1970
Win a Three Day Pass
Yes, friends, we're got a deal for you. If you soldier of rank Spec 4 or below and are assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, you can Win a FREE THREE DAY PASS to the China Beach R & R center. All you have to do is unravel the following little mystery: what do the digits 29-17-12 signify? If you know, clip this coupon and mail it to the Division are Information Office before midnight on October 12. Your coupon will be deposited with all other entries in a helmet liner and the chief-of-staff's designated representative will draw the winning scrap therefrom.
Tropic Lightning Tots
The Commanding General Welcomes
The Following Tropic Lightning Tots
To The 25th Infantry Division As
Reported By The American Red Cross.
PFC Richard E. Ferguson, C Btry, 2nd Bn, 32 Arty, boy
PVT Robert W. Staley, 38th Inf Scout Dogs, boy
PFC Jesus Hernandez, HQ Btry, 7th Bn, 11th Arty, boy
PFC Michael D. Murray, HHC 2nd Bn, 22nd Inf, girl
SP4 Richard I. Sommers, HHC, 65th Eng, boy
SGT Bobby W. Layton, E Co, 4th Bn, 9th Inf, boy
SP4 Benny Garcia, 362nd Eng, boy
|1LT Charles R. Thomas, F Co, 75th Inf
SGT Joseph F.Doucette, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SGT Kenneth Krajenke, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
|SGT Stephen J. Rapata, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Danny R. Erickson, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS
|1Lt Rudy Parris, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
CW2 James F. Carnathan, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
|WOI J. L. Walters, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
|CPT Jack D. Dempsey, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
1LT Reginald Smith, Co A 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SFC Donald G. Robinson, HHC, 4th 23d Inf
SGT Robert H. Baker, Co A, 2d Bn 22d Inf
SGT John McCubbin, CD B, 4th Bn 23d Inf
SGT Alan E. Mohr, Co A, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
SGT Charles Wartchow, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP5 David G. Atkinson, D Trp, 3d Sqdn, 4th Cav
SP4 Harold D. Bowen Co C, 2d Bn 14th Inf
SP4 Paul A. Campbell Co C, 2d Bn 14th Inf
SP4 Robert W. Clement, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Thomas W. Gaul, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
SP4 Larry T. Harper, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Terry W. Huber, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 James S. Kruse, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Marvin J. Nelson, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Morgan W. Pate, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
|SP4 Monte B. Schuman, Co C, 1st Bn 5th Inf
SP4 Johnny O. Scott, Co B, 2d Bn 14th Inf
SP4 Paul W. Smith, Co A 4th Bn, 23d Inf
SP4 Albert Wiley, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Lawrence Baker, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Craig K. Barton, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC John Berry, Co A, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Robert T. Carr, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Daniel J. Cathcart, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Rocky W. Haynie, Co C, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
PFC Herbert Jackson, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Walter Johnson, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Thomas H. Mardis, Co A, 4th Bn, 23d Inf
PFC Donald R. Reetz, Co B, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Floyd A. Schwalm, Co C, 1st Bn, 5th Inf
PFC Robert L. Zehringer, Co B, 2d Bn, 14th Inf
The TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS is an authorized publication of the 25th Infantry Division. It is published weekly for all division units in the Republic of Vietnam by the Information Office, 25th Infantry Division, APO San Francisco 96225. American Forces Press Service and Army News Feature materials are used. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army. Printed in Tokyo, Japan, by Pacific Stars and Stripes.
MG Edward Bautz, Jr . . . . Commanding General
MAJ Robert E. Kelso . . . Information Officer
1LT Martin E. Webb . . . . Officer-in-Charge
SP4 William M. Lane . . . . Editor
SP4 Scott Watson . . . . . . Assistant Editor
SP4 Joseph V. Kocian . . . Production Supervisor
|SGT Mike Keyster
SP4 Tom Benn
SP4 Frank Salerno
PFC Dan Lowry
SP4 Greg Duncan
SP4 Rich Erickson
SP4 Ed Toulouse
SGT Mark Rockney
SGT Mike Conroy
SGT William Zarrett
SGT Daniel House
SP5 Tom Watson
|SP4 William McGown
PFC James Stoup
SGT Derr Steadman
SP5 Doug Sainsbury
SP4 James Duran
SGT Jack Strickland
SP4 Kris Peterson
SP4 Frank Morris
SGT Bob Lodi
SGT Dan Davis
SP4 Phillip Maslin
PFC Doc Polis
Page 3 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 5, 1970
TAKING STOCK PFC Alvin Brown of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and SP6 R. Halslip of Dickson, Tenn., look over a vendors cloth paintings. (Photo by SGT Bob Lodi)
At Resupply Rendezvous
Bobcats Hurry Up and Wait
BY SGT BOB LODI
XUAN LOC - "Hurry up and wait." It seems one is always
waiting in the Army. At basic training it was waiting for inspections or chow. In AIT, it
was waiting in pay line and for orders to your next assignment. Even at the Oakland Army
Terminal there were eagerfaced PFCs waiting for their flight numbers to be called.
Here is Vietnam one waits too, and one of the most common places an infantrymen finds himself waiting is at the resupply rendezvous point. The Bobcats of 1st Battalion (Mech) 5th Infantry, like most soldiers have found ways to while away these idle hours.
"If I'm not on guard, I like to catch a quick hour of sleep or write a letter home," said Sergeant Norm Shirley of Jamestown, N.D., a squad leader with Charlie Company.
Waiting in the hot sun :for several hours can become very tedious duty. Fortunately, many of the resupply points are near villages or main highways.
"When we're close to a village it's a pleasant change from the field. The guys look forward to getting a sandwich or cold soda from the soda girls," said Private First Class Ted Pullara of Miami, a rifleman with Charlie Company.
"I swear I've seen the same soda girls in Tay Ninh that are around here," said Sergeant
Virgil Bagley of Greenwich, Utah, a squad leader with Charlie Company.
For the more adventurous soldiers, a resupply point can provide a shave, haircut, and massage from a friendly Vietnamese barber.
"I figured, what the heck, nobody will see me for a couple months," said Sergeant Larry Wagner of Brooklawn, New Jersey. "The haircut was surprisingly good, but the dry shave was a little uncomfortable. "
Wherever GI's congregate there is almost always a crowd of big-eyed curious children. And most Gl's have a soft spot for kids.
"These kids will beg, borrow and sometimes steal things from you, but they're so darn cute," said Private First Class Gary Vinson of Paducah, Kentucky, a member of Charlie Company. "I guess I'm just a soft touch."
Always though, sooner or later the rations vehicles arrive. The waiting and time-wasting are over, and it's back to the jungle and rice paddies.
Bewildered Crewmen Capture
By 1LT DANNY J. HARTWELL
DAU TIENG - A few intrepid members of the 65th Engineer's Alfa Company
added another glorious chapter to the battalion history with the greatest enemy capture
since the Keystone Cops nabbed three kids on their way to a candy store.
Alfa Company's CEV (combat engineer vehicle) crew, manned by Tank Commander Staff Sergeant Charles King of Ocala, Fla., Pnvate First Class Randall Grady of Somerville, Ala., and Private First Class Charley Birdwhistle of Edwardsville, Kan., was conducting a security mission for one of the engineer's convoys when the bizarre happening took place.
At the Junction of TL 239 and TL 19 near here, King observed four individuals fluttering in the tree line parallel to the road. Before the convoy reached the point of detection the crew observed the group winging across the highway dressed in bright white clothing.
King then watched them dart across the road again. Still under observation, the individuals bolted into the tree line and started stripping their clothing and donning completely different attire.
King decided that enough was enough. He commanded his crew to disembark the CEV and foil this obvious NVA plot to "blow the minds" of the tankers.
After assaulting on line, the combat veterans from Alfa Company over powered the flighty creatures and detained them until the "Minnie Pearls" (MPs) arrived on the scene to contain the four dubious fledglings
Brigade intelligence immediately set out to determine the importance of this noted capture.
Careful inquiry and meditation revealed the following: "At 1130 hours this morning, Alfa Company, 65th Engineer Battalion apprehended four bird hunters on TL 19."
It seems our white-winged warriors were crossing the road to evade the dust particles stirred by the convoy. The culprits soared into the wood line to change from their hunting costumes into more appropriate attire.
But why the white clothing?
It seems that these Vietnamese bird hunters were using the ancient custom of all Vietnamese bird hunters-which is the belief that if one wears white clothing the birds will be unable to see you thus resulting in "number one chop-chop" for mama-san.
ONE IN, TWO OUT...The Innocent Civilian Center at Cu Chi is the midwife to a lot of solutions for a lot of Vietnamese problems. But recently, they outdid themselves. Mrs. Vo Thi Nyoc came to the base camp to pick up a pay check for her ailing husband, an interpreter for C-5. He is in a Saigon hospital recovering from wounds suffered in a recent action. Mrs. Ngoc was well along in a pregnancy and when she was told that the finance records would take a couple of days to be completed, she was housed in the ICC. On September 9, she complained for labor pains and was rushed to 12th Evac where a baby boy was born on September 10. Mrs. Ngoc remained here for a few days of rest before traveling to Saigon to present her husband with his paycheck and a little bonus.
A TRIBUTE TO STEVE...A few days
ago, Staff Sergeant Tom Sims stopped by and handed us a piece of paper full of his
thoughts. He said he'd like to share those thoughts with the soldiers of the 25th
Division. The paper was a letter. Not to anybody in particular but about someone in
particular. This is what Sims wanted to share:
"I saw Steve today. He's doing fine.
"Him and I are friends you might say. In fact I love him like a brother. He was a platoon leader when he got hit, a shake-and-bake NCO, a damn young one too. His company was on patrol when they walked into an NVA battalion base camp. I was in the TOC listening, many miles away. I was told, and I could hear over the radio, that it was one hell of a fight.
"It hurt to see Steve like he was. Just a few days before, we had been talking to each other. The doctors told me that Steve may never walk again.
"When I saw Steve, he couldn't talk. There was something in his throat to help him breathe. The nurse gave me a pad so that he could write what he wanted to say. It was then that I learned of the infinite courage of Steve and the soldiers like him.
"His first question was, "How is everybody?" Then he thanked me for coming to see him and said to send his regards to everyone. He asked if his parents knew he had been hit. More questions like this. Not one complaint, not one frown, only concern for his buddies and family, and always smiling.
"I had to leave Steve then, I couldn't stand the screaming within my soul. I went outside and I cried, cried for his courage, his spirit, his concern for others. How petty a person I am to complain of my small woes.
"Later I came back and talked to Steve some more. He asked questions about his company and the men of his platoon. As we talked, we held hands in the clasp of a handshake, I could feel Steve's affection pouring into me a transfusion of his bountiful spirit, trying to comfort me, as if I was the one who was wounded.
"I knew then that no matter what ever happened, Steve would make the best of it. No stumbling block in life would ever make him lose his way or his courage or his unfaltering will. And I knew that if any man hit like Steve could ever walk again, it was Steve.
"To Steve, I now owe a debt of gratitude, and somehow, someday, I shall repay him. His courage and his spirit shall always light my heart with hope, hope for life, hope for love, hope for all of mankind. For as long as there are men of his courage and strength there will always be a chance for a better world. To me, Steve is the symbol of the eternal dreams of mankind and boundless courage of all the soldiers before and of all to come.
"Thank God for men like Steve.
"Thank you Steve. Thank you ever so much."
INTERESTING FACTS YOU'LL PROBABLY WANT TO FORGET...Did you know that Frank Sinatra was in the 25th Division? And Mongomery Clift? And Burt Lancaster? And Ernest Borgnine? Yes indeed, they were Tropic Lightning troopers for a little more than two hours in the film "From Here to Eternity." Monty, furthermore, was the first American to be killed on the beaches of Hawaii. Honest. I saw it myself right on the screen. Oh, forget it.
LUNCH This Cobra dipped out of the sky for a little fuel at Cu Chi before flying off to do battle with Charlie. (Photo by SP5 Jay Hall)
Page 4&5 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 5, 1970
[Pages 4 and 5 contained a photo spread of PFC Terry Spencer and PFC Antonio Berrios teaching a roomful of Vietnamese children. Most of the photos were too dark to reproduce well. Only one is shown here.]
Skool GI Style
By SP4 ED TOULOUSE
DAU TIENG Children studying English at the
Dinh Thanh school here learn their "ABCs" 25th Division GI style
due to the efforts of two classroom-oriented 2nd Battalion, 12th
Private First Class Terry Spencer and Private First Class Antonio Berrios, both from Philadelphia, instruct the children aided by ARVN interpreter, Staff Sergeant Pham Van Oanha. They have been instructing 130 enthusiasts between the ages of eleven and fifteen for a few hours one day each week.
Alphabet recitation, as old an American tradition as apple pie, seems to be holding its own even with these Vietnamese beginners.
"The kids are fascinated with the sounds of our alphabet," said Berrios. "Of course, they are still a bit shy because a teacher in OD clothing isnt exactly commonplace here."
According to Nguyen Van Luong, the schools principal, two daily sessions accommodate some 1,400 youthful residents of Dau Tieng. Seventeen teachers conduct the classes which are sectioned off by sex as well as aptitude and age.
The school, equivalent to the American junior high is the second step in the Vietnamese educational system. A youngster first attends the primary level for a required six years and, after passing an exam, will go on to junior high school. The final step of public education for most is the two-year high school.
Photo caption: REPEAT AFTER ME PFC Terry Spencer leads his class in alphabet recitation.
Page 6 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 5, 1970
Balances Props, Patches
Echo Company Keeps Choppers High in the Sky
By SP5 TOM WATSON
CU CHI - If a helicopter in the 25th Division needs a prop balanced,
bullet holes patched or an engine repaired, Echo Company, 725th Maintenance Battalion is
the "Service to The Line" element that is called upon.
The maintenance section of Echo Company is divided into various segments to include production control, quality control and the allied hops.
Production control is under the leadership of Captain Robert L. Adams of Columbus, Ohio.
"Our job," said Adams, "is to repair or replace any equipment that is unserviceable."
The prop and rotor shop is engaged in "very intricate and exacting work," said Senior Repairman Specialist 5 Donald R. Hullet of Oklahoma City, Okla.
"We do have a tolerance factor, but it's almost to the point of being non-existent, since it's only one ten-thousandth of an inch," added Hullet." In fact, we even have to use a draft-free room in which to balance the props and rotors."
The many feet of hydraulic lines in a helicopter can fray, crack or receive battle damage according to Specialist 5 Patrick J. Helay of Yankton, S.D., a senior repairman in the hydraulics shop. This is when the hydraulics shop crew goes to work and manufactures a facsimile of the damaged line.
"We try to make a replacement as close to the original as humanly possible," added Healy.
"Ninety per cent of the ships that come in here need sheet metal work," Staff Sergeant W. Close of Akron, Ohio, the sheet metal repairs section chief said.
"When a ship comes in with battle damage we peel back the skin (the sheet metal covering the outside of the helicopter) and trace the path of the bullet," added Close. "Wherever the bullet enters, it makes a hole about as big as a pencil but whether it stops or goes all the way through, it affects an area over one foot in diameter at its last point within the ship."
"This means we have to inspect a cone-shaped area about a foot in diameter at one end and a hole about the diameter of a pencil at the other end," Close pointed out.
"The engine crew handles what the ship's crew chief can't repair," said Pnvate First Class Thomas W. Finigan of Belmont, Calif. "Our worst problem is FOD (foreign object damage). It could be a loose nut or bolt that moves around within the engine and gouges out parts of it.
"Our second biggest problem is 'hot starts' (the engine overheats when starting) and EGT (exhaust gas temperatures) which will crack the turbine's blades during flight," remarked Finigan.
While repairs are being made, the supervisors and quality control personnel watch every repair for accuracy.
"Quality controls job is to insure air-worthiness of all aircraft before they leave the ground, explained Specialist 6 Terry Tyler of Baird, Tex.
"There is a constant check and double-check system going all of the time to insure that no one makes even the slightest mistake."
Adams, who is also one of the test pilots, said, "Even if a screw or nut and bolt were put in backwards it could spell disaster."
"Quality control is autonomous within the maintenance section because it is controlled by the company commander; their job is to inspect the ship and be sure it's safe to fly," added Adams. The reason for this thorough safety check was summed up by Adams. "When you're up there, you can't pull off to the side and make a repair."
Americans Felled By Vietnamitis
By SP4 ED TOULOUSE
DAU TIENG - "It's a hardship tour." This catch-aD
expression seems to voice every Gl's sentiments towards a similar predicament - 12 months
Grunts, clerks, cooks, and mechanics all suffer from "Vietnamitis" in much the same way. The new guy in country with his stateside innocence and embarrassingly-new jungle fatigues, receives a prompt introduction to his problems with the initial assault of heat dust and mosquitoes - but this is only a token of Vietnam's offerings.
Showering is the source of a variety of complaints. To the GI hot water merely describes the contents of his canteen after a day in the field. However, cold water isn't so bad for showering - providing there's enough of it.
Ever have the misfortune of trying to walk through the mud wearing shower clogs? - It seems to defy some inherent law of nature.
Getting into the PX night after payday is like trying to break through Gardol's "Invisible Shield! "
Certain diseases seem pre-destined for the GI! What better proof for having served here than a case of ringworm?
Ever receive cookies from home -- or rather cookie crumbs?
How about the tan that took eight months to get - the one that so mysteriously disappears after the first hot shower on R & R.
Keeping your boots shined for fifteen minutes- impossible!
A major crisis arises - no soda. Except for Fresca (yech).
A year in Nam is sure a "hardship tour."
Ask SGT Certain
Dear Sarge: Yesterday morning I was coming back
from reactionary guard when a young first lieutenant jogged by me. As I continued to walk,
the lieutenant started running in place until I caught up with him. He then ordered me to
jog with him despite the fact I was in full combat gear including a can of bug bomb tied
to my Taro Leaf pin. Now I don't mind a little exercise once in awhile - in fact I trot
over to the EM club every night. But this was ridiculous. We jogged all around Cu Chi base
camp until I fell into a scro ditch too exhausted to continue. The lieutenant didn't even
pause, but just jogged off toward the horizon. While I tried to pull myself out of the
muck and mire, a large spotted terrier trotted up and relieved himself upon my helmet.
That wouldn't have been so bad but I was wearing it at the time. I later found out that
this dog belonged to the jogging lieutenant. I tried to press charges, but the IG claims
that there is no Army reg that prohibits dogs from using public scro ditches. In fact, I
was given an article 15 for ruining my combat equipment. Can I appeal?
DEAR PVT: No, but we've had an appeal from your hootch mates. Would you please take a shower.
DEAR SERGEANT CERTAIN: Is Ho Chi Minh's birthday
a valid reason for calling out the reactionary guard on a yellow alert? I was pulled away
from a good show at the EM club to go out on the bunker. I was up all night and the Hoi
Chanhs ran out of birthday cake before they got to our bunker. Was this sort of yellow
Cpl. Sam Sham
DEAR SHAM: Sorry, fella, but Army regs stipulate that a yellow alert may be called any time the bunker OIC thinks it is necessary. We checked with your OIC and found out that he used to date Hoi Chi Minh's granddaughter. Her birthday is next week so be ready.
DEAR SERGEANT MAJOR CERTAIN: On a recent
excursion to Saigon, I was constantly harassed by street hawkers who were trying to buy my
camera. I kept refusing but they nonetheless bugged the bejeebers out of me. Finally in
exasperation, I told one of the Saigon supersalesmen that I would sell my camera for 2,000
MPC. After a bit of haggling, he bought it for 1,500 MPC and his three daughters.
The problem is that the camera was not mine and also I am happily married. I went to see the chaplain with my problem(s) but he told me to turn myself in to the MPs. I can't do this since I secretly work for the CID and would be ruined if the tale of my demise were to leak out.
In desperation, I went to 125th Signal and was able to exchange two daughters and 500 MPC for a broken enlarger. I then took the enlarger down to Saigon where I sold it on the black market for six packs of Dentyne. I used this to snag dong from the bottom of gutter drains. Eventually I was able to purchase a Brownie Starmite and returned it to my office. It looks a little like the Nikon FTN I sold originally and so far no one has noticed the difference. However, the remaining daughter is getting awfully cramped in my duffel bag. What can I do?
PFC T.U. Do
DEAR DODO: Train her as your turtle. And another thing, I'm not a sergeant major. I work for a living.
DEAR SGT CERTAIN: I realize promotions are
rather scarce these days but I've been a PFC for 16 months. My CO says my work is fine, in
fact I've got an ARCOM with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters. But no promotion. What's a soldier to
PFC F. Ever
DEAR EVER: I know exactly what you're going through. My clerk-typist has been a 1st Lieutenant for two years. He has 20 Oak Leaf Clusters and when I go to the PX I bring him peanut clusters. Poor guy, he's been attaching a star to his silver bar and calling himself a brigadier lieutenant. Take heart.
Page 7 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 5, 1970
Beaucoup Work, Ti-Ti Pay
Vietnamese Labor For GIs
By 1Lt Richard Harris
DAU TIENG - Womans Liberation is nothing new in
Vietnam. Because most young Vietnamese men are soldiers, the labor market here is
dominated by women. At the 1st Brigade base camp here, the large majority of the 340
civilian laborers are women.
While some women work in the more Americanized roles of medical and dental assistants, waitresses, clerks and secretaries, the majority are routine physical laborers--sandbag fillers, dishwashers (KPs) and housekeepers.
Nguyen Thi Loi Lan, for example, is a fairly typical housekeeper, or "hootch girl."
Though only 17, Lan has been working for American soldiers for more than two years. She used to work in a 1st Division enlisted mens club, but when that unit pulled out last spring she was out of a job.
In August, Lan was able to find work as a hootch girl when the 1st Brigade moved in.
A Day In The Life
Lan lives with her cousin, Nan, another hootch maid. Her working day begins at 7:30 a.m. with making beds and sweeping the floors of the bunkers. While cleaning the rooms, she also picks up after her untidy clients.
Her next stop is the shower stall where she washes laundry. After hanging out the wash to dry on barbed-wire fencing, she spit-shines boots, returns to the hootches and sweeps again.
Most of the afternoon is spent starching and ironing fatigues and before leaving for the night she once again sweeps the ever-dusty bunker floors.
Numbers One And Two
Many hootch maids say they would rather be KPs because of the higher pay. "KP number one, hootch girl number two," according to Lan.
But the life of a hootch maid is not bad by local standards, the work being neither degrading nor overly strenuous.
Here, hootch girls average 1,180 piasters ( $10) per man per month, or about $60. While less than that earned by KPs, it is far better than the 100 piasters per day (about $26 per month), of the sandbaggers.
The girls dont like to have their pictures taken while they are working. Tuyet, a sandbagger and former hootch maid explained. "Maybe picture be in American paper and American woman say, look at poor Vietnamese woman, she do beaucoup work. "
Beaucoup, Ti - Ti
All the women agree that they do "beaucoup (much) work for ti-ti (little) pay." But given the choice of this work or going back to the pre-GI way of life, they will stay. They like the nice things they can buy with the money, and they dont want to stay at home.
What will these women do when the GIs leave here? Most dont understand the question because they have watched US units come and go for years. When pressed however, the younger girls say "maybe go back to school," while most of the mama-san KPs and sandbaggers shake their heads and mutter, "I dont know. "
One of the younger mama-sans, though expressed what may be the feeling of most of the Vietnamese workers.
"No sweat, sir," she said. "Before Gl come we live okay-not have money, not have nice clothes, not have so much food, but still live okay. When GI go home, we be okay too."
Photo captions for above photos:
SCRUBBA DUBBA Because they are not as easily distracted by GIs as are the girl-sans, older women make the best KPs.
BARBED LINE Sahn, a Dau Tieng housekeeper, demonstrates why the Vietnamese clothespin industry is not among the worlds leaders. Thats where the little holes around the collars of your fatigues come from.
SPIT SHINE Lan, a Dau Tieng hootch maid, uses the time-tested GI method to keep her mens boots in a high state of polish.
Page 8 TROPIC LIGHTNING NEWS October 5, 1970
Cats Treat Ills, Show
Vietnamese Offered Nightcap
By SGT BOB LODI
XUAN LOC - Vietnamese near this village
may now have a little nightcap before they bed down, courtesy of the 1st Battalion (Mech),
The units PSYOPS sector has instituted a program for the local gentry consisting of a late afternoon MEDCAP and nighttime movies.
"The program is designed to reach the farmer who spends most of the daytime hours working his fields," said First Lieutenant Robert Galloway, PSYOPS officer. "The movies help familiarize him with democratic ideas."
The Bobcat S-5 team, working with 2nd Brigade, has planned a series of nightcaps in the villages surrounding Fire Support Base Lynch. Arriving in a village, the Bobcat medics set up a MEDCAP while Vietnamese interpreters promote the evening movies over loudspeakers.
Once darkness falls, First Lieutenant Bob Rosensweet of the 6th PSYOPS Battalion, takes over with his projector and films.
"The movies are designed to appeal to all ages," said Rosensweet of New York City " and they do. The enthusiasm is spontaneous and contagious."
"I remember one old man who broke into applause after a girl in one of the films sang a patriotic song, Galloway recalled.
Photo above: THANKS Sergeant Norm Shirley, squad leader for Charlie Company, 1st of the 5th, accepts a cigarette and light from a regional forces soldier during nightcap. (Photo by SGT Bob Lodi)
Division Units Team, Uncover
By SP4 DENNIS LEBLANC
CU CHI - Two 25th Division armored units teamed up near here recently to
uncover a large underground tunnel filled with a vast cache of enemy supplies.
Armored personnel carriers of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion (Mech), 22nd Infantry, providing security for tanks of the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor, found the goods in a heavily booby-trapped area 10 miles north of here.
"We knew the area was thickly booby-trapped, so the tanks pulling a heavy chain, moved ahead of us to clear the terrain and detonate any mines or booby-traps the enemy might have planted," said Triple Deuce Specialist 4 Ray Pickett of Sterling, Miss.
It was early afternoon when the tanks uncovered what appeared to be a tunnel entrance.
"We got off the tracks to take a closer look and saw we had a pretty good sized tunnel," said Specialist 4 Terry Hollinger of Downey, Calif.
Examination of the tunnel revealed ammunition supplies including AK-47 magazines, one claymore bag and detonator, fuze assemblies and five pounds of explosives. Also 10 feet of rope, two pounds of documents, digging tools, pots and pans, medical supplies and 5,000 rubber bands were found.
True Love Overcomes International Obstacles
By SP4 WILLIAM L MCGOWN
CU CHI - Baking was what he was doing. His hometown, Talledega, Ala., was
no icebox, but Vietnam was about to cook his goose in more ways than one.
Such was the situation of Specialist 6 Jerry Hughston back when he was an unsuspecting newbie. Hughston found the inprocessing at the divisions replacement detachment as wearisome as making a twelve-tiered wedding cake.
Hoping to add a bit of spice to his life, he decided he would see what else the Cu Chi cupboard had to offer. Thats when he stepped out of the frying pan and into the fire.
As chance would have it, the nearest place for adventure was the Division Artillery (DivArty) area. Being a cook, it was not unusual that Hughston gradually sniffed out the mess hall. An unknowing newbie, he entered through the officers mess area.
His glance immediately fell upon a surprisingly delightful dish. There, working as usual, was pretty Nguyen Thi Thong.
If this was a foretaste of what was to come, thought Hughston, he would relish this tour.
Upon returning to the repo depot, Hughston found that he had been assigned to DivArty. The following months were flavored with compatibility and the mess man found that the meals at the Trong household were a welcome variation from the daily fare he served.
In addition, he and Thi had several opportunities to go sightseeing in Saigon and visit the zoos and other places of local interest.
"I found it most interesting," Hughston said, "because Thi could explain to me much about her country as we went along."
But their courtship was not all bliss, Hughston recalls.
"Even though I submitted the necessary paperwork requesting to marry a Vietnamese national four months after I met Thi, we had to wait 15 months before we could actually get married. And it might have been longer if the colonel hadnt helped us."
Hughston was referring to Colonel H. A. Buzzett, former commanding officer of DivArty.
"I was serving him dinner one evening and he asked when I was getting married," Hughston said.
"I explained that I didnt know as I was having trouble getting permission. So he wrote a recommendation and in a very short time I was notified that my request had been approved."
In a simple ceremony at the DivArty chapel, Miss Trong became a June bride, wearing the traditional Vietnamese wedding dress. Two Vietnamese friends served as her bridesmaids and Miss Terry Tucker of Special Services was ringbearer and witness.
Chaplain (Major) Roger Knutsen officiated at the Protestant service and Specialist 4 Larry Gray, also of DivArty, was Hughstons best man.
A reception followed in the DivArty EM club with refreshments provided by Sergeant First Cass Mike Yiammas, mess sergeant. Though there was no car with tin can streamers in which to escape, the newlyweds were dispatched with some fanfare to Saigon for a three day honeymoon.
SCURRY Men of the 1st Battalion (Mech), 5th Infantry greet their good friend Huey wholl get them out of Charlie country. (Photo by SP4 Rich Fitzpatrick)
Ron Leonard, 25th Aviation Bn., for locating and mailing this issue,
Kirk Ramsey, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. for creating this page.
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